Posts tagged ‘seo’

Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP: A Fine Mix

What? Is this a merketing blog or what? Why would you even review a book about SEO on a blog dedicated to Drupal, PHP, MySQL and the likes?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, we all know quite well that creating a website that can be found among all the other sites on the web has always been important to the success of any site, and I’m certain that you as a programmer are quite concerned with the success of the site you have worked on for so long.

If you have content sites and want to make money, or you have some other motivation to want your sites to become as popular as possible, you must not ignore the importance of global search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. It is no secret that Search engine optimization, or as it is known by the geeks, SEO, is as important to the marketing of a website as image optimization is to its graphic design.

If you were not aware of that, try using a web server log analyzer tool, or a site audience analyzer service like Google Analytics, so you can determine how many visitors Google leads to your site every day. The conclusion: many users start looking for what they want from the Internet using search engines sites. I am certain that you will reveal that more than 50% of your visitors come to your site after having searched for something on Google.

However, having your site pages just listed in Google definitely is not enough. When the users search for something, pages from other sites may, and probably will, appear before yours. Users tend to click on pages that appear first in search results pages. I’m sure you do the same most of the time.

It is therefore obvious that the more pages you have appearing first in Google search results pages, more visitors you will get.

But, the question naturally arises, how Google decides which pages appear first, and What can be done to make your site pages appear before other sites’ pages? Those are questions answered by a relatively new Internet science named Search Engine Optimization, or in short SEO.

That is precisely the main topic of the book “Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP” (Buy it on Amazon). This book is targeted at the PHP programmer who needs to understand the many technical issues involved when programming a search-engine-friendly site from attracting search engine spiders to site promotion.

Even if SEO is nothing new to you, I am quite sure that until reading this book you do not realize how much can be done from a architectural standpoint for SEO, and this book is designed for improving ranking during development and design of the website using lots of code examples and practice exercises which show how to implement the techniques covered in the book.

Among the topics covered in this book, for example, is the problem most sites are faced with when having to decide between visual design and spider efficiency. We all love to have our site visitors enjoy those cool looking interactive features, such as fancy menus, that can be created using JavaScript, Ajax and Flash, but the problem is that these same features make it difficult for search engines to find your site. However, web readers have come to expect a certain amount of interactivity and without at least a few of these goodies, your site will be bland by today’s standards. The authors discuss this problem and cover several ways to help such as generating SEO images and the use of graphic text.

Spread over sixteen chapters Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP details vigorously the points of interest within a complex landscape of not always obvious techniques.

The book begins with a nice discussion of how to set up the programming environment including setting up the MySQL server and then move on to tools and resources for the IT professional and the basics of search engine optimization, like Google page rank algorithm and what factors may influence it, penalties that your site may get for not having things done appropriately, and tools that may assist in your SEO efforts.

One of the most important aspects of search engine optimization is the URL. The URLs that you generate for your pages must not only be search engine friendly but also people friendly. The authors discuss how to make the task of creating and managing search-engine-friendly URLs easier. Another problem you will encounter is duplicate content which will harm your site’s search engine rating. The authors discuss many ways to prevent or minimize this problem such as using robots.txt and meta exclusion.

Since one of the most popular ways to promote a website is with RSS feeds and syndication which, in order to be effective,  must be updated as new content is added to your site. This can be a daunting and time consuming task especially if your site is updated several times a minute. Two answers to this problem offered by the authors are to automate the generation of RSS feeds with a PHP class and displaying feeds with SimplePie.

Zooming in further, the next eleven chapters focus directly on specific issues such as the evil of duplicating content or answering the now obvious question of why site maps are important, and how to use social bookmarking sites to increase the exposure of your site, increasing the relevance of your site pages by making links to those pages appear in other sites, considerations about non-English sites or sites of interest for users of specific regions, etc…

This book has a specific chapter dedicated to black hat SEO practices. It explains what are those practices, why their bad, and what search engine companies do to fight them. It also talks about the legendary Matt Cutts, a distinct employer of Google that leads the company initiatives to what is known as search engine ethics.

The parts that really focus on PHP are the ones that provide examples of dynamic sites generated with PHP. For instance, there is one specific chapter that focus on optimizing WordPress based sites.

This book is for anyone that wishes to improve the ranking of their PHP enabled website or who needs to comprehend the great number of little details involved with optimizations.


July 29, 2009 at 3:20 pm 19 comments

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